On my way into work this morning I was listening to the Business Week cover story podcast. The subject of the episode was health care in US corporations. Specifically, it was about how Scott’s Miracle Grow is cutting health-care costs and creating healthier employees.
Their strategy, in a nutshell, is to provide advanced health screening for every employee and to provide resources in the form of a health plan and health coaches, free gym membership, nicorette gum, etc. Employees who adopt the screening and plan see their out of pocket health expenses go down. Employees who do not adopt the screening and/or plan see their out of pocket expenses go up and face possible termination.
This approach will obviously test some legal questions specifically an employees health privacy. My gut reaction, however, is that if a company is paying part of the health costs for an employee that do need to be part of the decision making process.
This story led me to think we could use a similar plan in our K12 schools. What if health teachers became health coaches. What if students were provided with advanced screening options that included work with mental health professionals, PE teachers, and the school nurse. What if students discussed what the definition of a healthy person is, set goals to achieve that definition, and monitored their progress. What if we as educators helped students learn about health in a personal, practical, and authentic context. Think of the benefits….better sports teams, fewer visits to the nurse, cost savings for parents, cost savings for health providers and insurance companies, and healthier kids that grow up to be healthier adults. Who loses??? McDonald’s, Phillip Morris, Coca Cola….oh well….